Being Right: Income Inequality



Kyle Gavin

During the past month, as the Occupy Wall Street movement has picked up steam, the topic of rising income inequality has moved to the forefront of the political arena. In the past 30 years, America has experienced unprecedented economic growth. However, vari­ous studies show that 80 percent of the gains have gone to the top one percent. Many liber­als believe that the economic system is rigged to benefit those at the top at the expense of everyone else. All of this is wrongheaded. First, the wealthy, just like everybody else, earn their money. Unless you can prove that the CEO who made ten million dollars stole it, I do not see how you can say his compensation is unfair. Secondly, globalization has occurred in the last 30 years. There are simply a lot more workers competing for the same jobs. An old adage will put this in per­spective. I used to be a picky eater when I was younger and when I was struggling to eat my dinner, my parents would tell me to “finish my food since there are children in China and India who are starving.” Columnist Thomas Friedman correctly points out that people of my generation will have to tell our children “to finish their homework since there are children in China and India starving for their jobs.” Many Americans have not caught on to this reality yet, although it seems the rest of the world has. How many Chinese and Indian kids do you think are studying women’s studies?

The 47 percent of Americans that do not pay any federal income taxes, do not understand that you need “21st century skills” in order to compete in the 21st century. The days when you could slack off in high school and expect a unionized job moving parts from conveyor belt A to conveyor belt B and make $75,000 a year are over. The 10 percent, on the other hand, value education and have the skills necessary to compete in a global market. It should come as no surprise that they have reaped the most benefits in the last 30 years. Finally, with all due respect to liberals, corporations are not philanthropic organizations. They exist to make money. Corporations and businesses only hire people who add value. If you add value, you will most likely have a job and will earn compensation commensurate with your skill level. The more value you add, the more you get paid. If you do not add value, then you have two choices. You can either wallow away in your filth and bang pots and pans together as you Occupy Wall Street, or you can get an education that gives you the skills neces­sary to add value.The most troubling thing about this whole debate is the solution that liberals have to fix it. Senate Democrats last month introduced a bill that would create a surtax of five percent on incomes over one million dollars in order to level the playing field of the vast discrepancies in wealth that have occurred in the past 30 years. The Occupy Wall Street movement has no idea how hard millionaires work. Most of them worked hard in college by studying something relevant and many of them work over 100 hours a week in their professional lives. I do not understand how the left can expect someone who has worked hard their whole life to forfeit some of their wealth in order to subsidize someone on welfare who has six kids, by five men, in four different states.

Many on the left believe that it is immoral that the top one percent has seen the majority of the economic gains of the last 30 years. According to these redistributionists, it is immoral to have mas­sive amounts of wealth but it is all right by them to take government handouts, which are paid for by the money that other people have earned, and continue to grovel for more money.

These kinds of people have less of a moral high ground than a thief. At least the thief has the guts to hold a gun to someone’s head and rob them blind instead of having the IRS demand that you give up your money to help fund government welfare programs. In reality, this debate is nothing more than background noise. In the end, you are responsible for your own success. Nobody cares if you grew up poor. Nobody cares if you had crummy parents. We all have problems that we have to overcome. Those who continue to say that their gender, race or socioeconomic status is holding them back will continue to fall further and further behind, while those such as Herman Cain, who made no excuses and worked hard to succeed, will achieve the American Dream. Some people may say that this is harsh, but the fact of the matter is, this is how the real world operates. I am sorry that you are not in Little League anymore. You do not get a trophy just for participating.

Contact Kyle Gavin at [email protected]